Category Archives: Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation Basics: Provide Notice of Injury

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This blog post is the fourth in a series that examines the basics of workers’ compensation.

Whether an injured employee provided notice of an injury to their employer is an issue that often arises in a workers’ compensation case. It is always part of an injured worker’s burden to prove that they provided notice of their injury to their employer. However, an employer may raise this issue as a possible defense against the injured worker’s claim for benefits. Making sure an employer knows about an injury, regardless of whether the injured worker knows for sure that it is work-related, is typically a very simple – but very important – part of a workers’ compensation case.

The reasons for requiring notice make a lot of sense when you think about it: if the employer does not know about the injury, how can the employer know an injured worker may require medical care or other benefits? Different employers will have different procedures for reporting accidents and injuries, so it is important for employees to consult their employee handbook to find out what their employer expects. Ultimately, the claim may be compensable whether the injured worker followed the rules or not, but it is always the best policy to be proactive and avoid unnecessary problems down the road.

What happens if an injured worker thinks his or her injury might be work-related, but he or she is not sure and the injury isn’t reported right away? Maybe an accident occurred at work, but the injured worker did not notice any symptoms until the next day? Or they knew they were hurt, but did not seek medical care for several weeks because they thought it would go away on its own? Nebraska workers’ compensation law requires an employee to notify their employer of an injury “as soon as practicable” after the accident occurred. There is no answer in Nebraska as to what, exactly, “as soon as practicable” means in terms of days, weeks or months. It will depend on the facts of the case. Ideally, an accident occurs and an employee provides notice in writing immediately following the accident. When things don’t turn out “ideally,” however, if an employee can prove that the employer had sufficient notice or knowledge of the employee’s injury to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the injury was potentially compensable, the notice is considered sufficient under Nebraska law. The question is whether the employer knew enough that a reasonable employer would conclude they had better investigate further. This type of notice may come in the form of requests for time off to attend medical appointments, showing up to work with a brace on or the fact that an employer processes the employee’s bills with his or her group health insurance.

The important thing to remember about notice is just that: it is important. It is an important and simple step to take whenever an employee is injured. It can also be complicated, so consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when you think you may have a notice problem or when your employer denies your claim because of an alleged lack of it.

Read the previous blog posts in the series by clicking on these links: 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Comp Basics, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , .

How Does Workplace Violence Fit into Workers’ Compensation?

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. OSHA also reports that nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of such violence each year. We are probably most likely to think of the horrible stories of violent acts that occur in the course of commission of a crime such as a robbery. These acts are committed by persons who have no legitimate reason to be there, with no relationship to the employer or employees. Many instances of workplace violence are also committed by upset clients or customers, students or patients. Family members, acquaintances, and persons who have personal relationships with employees may also be perpetrators.

What happens when someone is injured due to violence that occurs between co-workers, though? Are injuries sustained as a result of this violence compensable under Nebraska workers’ compensation law? The answer, like many answers to legal questions, is it depends. The fact that you can prove you were assaulted and injured on the job does not automatically mean you are entitled to benefits. It is always the injured workers’ burden to prove he or she suffered injuries because of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. Here, too, an injured worker must prove the accident resulted from risks arising from within the scope or sphere of the worker’s job. The general rule for workplace violence in Nebraska law is that where an assault is purely personal, the victim is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This means that if you are assaulted at work by a co-worker, and you are unable to show that the violence grew out of or was connected to the relationship as fellow employees or acts in the performance of work, you may not be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 

Examples of cases where an injured employee was denied benefits include where a fight broke out over payment on a side job, where one employee assaulted another because he had a problem with that employee’s status as a registered sex offender, or where one employee shot and killed her husband (a co-worker) allegedly due to her fear of further domestic violence. The courts determined in these cases there was no causal connection between the employment and the accident and injury.

Whether an accident arises out of and in the course of employment must be determined by the facts of each case. As a practical matter, in many cases, a claim for injuries due to workplace violence may take more time than usual to process. Sorting through witness accounts and getting every side of the story will be a necessary and often complicated part of the workers’ compensation insurer’s investigation. Since finding out the reason for the incident is significant, benefits may be more likely to be delayed than in a more typical or common workers’ compensation claim. It is important to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have questions about whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for an injury resulting from workplace violence.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: What is a Workers’ Compensation Accident?

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injured workerThis blog post is the third in a series that examines the basics of workers’ compensation.

To be a covered workers’ compensation claim, an employee’s personal injury must be caused by an accident or occupational disease, but what does that mean?

The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act defines accident as: “an unexpected or unforeseen injury happening suddenly and violently, with or without human fault, and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury. The claimant shall have a burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that such unexpected or unforeseen injury was in fact caused by the employment. There shall be no presumption from the mere occurrence of such unexpected or unforeseen injury that the injury was in fact caused by the employment. …” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-151 (2)

Of course, many workers’ compensation injuries are not as simple or as clear as a broken arm that was the result of a fall. Some injuries are caused by repetitive motion or cumulative trauma on the job. In those cases, the injuries are still considered workers’ compensation “accidents” under the definition above, even though the injuries did not truly occur “suddenly and violently” as required by the statute.

As for an occupational disease, the Workers’ Compensation Act defines it as “a disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment and shall exclude all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed.” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-151 (3) Examples to think about would be mesothelioma for asbestos workers or black lung for coal miners.

In sum, pretty much any injury or illness that an employee receives from work can fit into the definition of “accident” under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. However, proving the injury is much more difficult and may require the help of a lawyer.

Read the previous blog posts in the series by clicking on these links: Workers’ Compensation Basics: Are You an Employee? and What is Workers’ Compensation?

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Injury Reporting, Work Injury, Worker safety, Workers' Comp' Basics, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Is a Pulmonary Embolism Compensable under Workers’ Compensation?

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The short answer is yes, but it could be difficult to prove if it is not directly related to another workers’ compensation injury. In Nebraska, proving a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) requires the same legal and medical causation tests as a heart attack or stroke (see Zissin v. Shanahan and Wingfield v. Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc.).

What that means is legal causation must be proved by showing that exertion or stress encountered during employment is greater than that experienced during the ordinary non-employment life. Then, it must also be proven by medical causation: i.e., show that the employment contributed in some material and substantial degree.

On the other hand, if someone develops DVT as a result of another injury caused by work, it would probably be much easier to meet the causation required to prove compensability. For example, let’s say a worker injures his knee during work and has surgery on that knee. Then, as a result of the surgery, a postoperative complication of DVT arises and eventually becomes a pulmonary embolism. In that scenario, the pulmonary embolism is clearly related to the work injury and clearly compensable.

Absent a prior injury, however, causation must be met by the standards stated above, which will be very fact intensive. An example of this scenario came up in the recent case, Wingfield v. Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc., 288 Neb. 174. In that case, a truck driver for 35 years asserted that his deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism was from sitting while driving a truck so long. The workers’ compensation court dismissed the cases, holding that the truck driver did not adequately prove legal and medical causation.

This case illustrates how difficult the causation standard is for pulmonary embolism cases that are not directly linked to a work injury. These types of cases will almost certainly require the assistance of a lawyer. 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Workers’ Compensation Basics: Are You an Employee?

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Here’s the second blog post in a series on the basics of workers’ compensation.

As its name suggests, workers’ compensation compensates employees for on-the-job injuries. About 95 percent of time, the question of whether an injured worker is an employee is a simple “yes.” If you are paid a regular salary or by the hour via a regularly scheduled paycheck where your employer takes deductions out for Social Security, unemployment, Medicare, etc., you are most likely an employee.

But sometimes the issue of whether you are an employee isn’t as simple. Some states may exclude household and farm workers. Some states may exclude employees performing work for the business outside of the regular course of business hours. An employer might try to exclude an employee from workers’ compensation benefits by alleging the employee is an independent contractor.

If you are hurt on the job and your employer or their insurance company is claiming that you aren’t covered by workers’ compensation, you need to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Laws about which employees are covered by workers’ compensation are very specific and vary by state. You need an attorney who can tell you whether you are in fact covered by workers’ compensation, and, if not, what other possible ways there would be to compensate you for your injuries.

Read the first blog post in the series by clicking on this link: What is Workers’ Compensation?

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Fraud, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , .

What is Workers’ Compensation?

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Pipe_installation_2This is the first installment of a series that will educate workers and their families about injury, disease and death resulting from work. The most basic question is: What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a legal system established in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and for federal employees. Workers’ compensation laws began in the United States in 1912. The laws are different in each state, but the basics of the law are quite similar in all states.

If a worker is injured, contracts a disease or dies as a result of work activities, all of the medical and burial expenses are to be paid by the employer. The employer is also responsible to pay for lost wages, physical disability, and mental disability. Workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering and is generally limited in duration of payments, although some states pay lifetime benefits.

The balance of this series will go through the basic steps of how to obtain workers’ compensation benefit. The goal is to inform, which helps victims of workplace injury, disease or death receive proper compensation.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Comp' Basics, Workers' Compensation and tagged , .

Poverty And Social Insurance

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Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm in Milwaukee. For many people, “entitlement” is a bad word, but I would argue that is not necessarily the case. A quick Google search shows that the first two definitions aren’t even negative: “the fact of having a right to something” and “the amount to which a person has a right” but the third definition is one that people against investment in social programs cling to: “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” One example of an “entitlement” program not written about below is SNAP: the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. In addition to the obvious benefits of providing food for the needy, SNAP actually keeps up demand for farm products and food, and “every dollar spent on SNAP spurs $1.79 in economic activity,” according to the USDA at this website. And, yes, injured workers and their loved ones often find themselves needing help that SNAP and other social safety nets provide because entitlements that should be found through workers’ compensation fall through. This is especially true when the workers’ compensation system (that has different nuances in each state) fails to provide both needed income and care to injured workers, and the workers and their loved ones suffer, and must turn to other safety nets written about below. I would argue that all are entitled to a safe job and the ability to get compensated and cared for when an injury occurs on the job, and that should be a right, not special treatment.

My business-owning friends harp constantly about “entitlements,” which, they say, cost them money in taxes and premiums. I routinely reply that these programs are a social safety net, the small price we pay to live together relatively peacefully  in a “civilized” nation.

My friend and Iowa workers’ comp colleague Paul Mc Andrew sent me an email that sums up this concept succinctly:

Did you know that in 2013, there were more than 25 million reasons to give thanks for social insurance? According to Census Bureau data released this fall, more than 45 million people in the U.S., or 14.5% of the nation, lived in poverty in 2013. The good news? Three vitally important social insurance programs – Social Security, unemployment insurance (UI), and workers’ compensation – and a related program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), kept the poverty rate from being much higher. Together, these four programs kept more than 25 million people out of poverty.

Workers’ Compensation alone lifted 87,000 people out of poverty in 2013, including:

  • 16,000 children; and
  • 60,000 non-elderly adults; and
  • 11,000 elderly adults aged 65+

−−Elisa Walker, National Academy of Social Insurance

We workers’ comp lawyers can only help one injured workers at a time, but collectively…..

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Government, Legislation, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , .

The Role Workers’ Compensation Plays in the Amtrak Train 188 Derailment

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Our sympathies go out to all of the friends and families of the victims of Tuesday’s Amtrak passenger train derailment in Philadelphia, as well as a wish for the recovery of those injured. The latest news reports indicate that, as of Friday morning, the crash has left at least eight dead and more than 200 injured. 

In reading some of the profiles of those fatally injured in the crash, I have thought about how the families of these victims move forward now. There has been a lot of discussion of the role of Amtrak’s negligence, train safety in the United States, and the engineer responsible for driving the train, but little has been mentioned of the role of the employers of the victims, some of whom were traveling to or from work or on work-related business. Some of these employers may be responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits, and some may not. Of the eight fatalities, one individual was reportedly headed home following work-related meetings in Washington, D.C. Another was reportedly commuting home to New York from her job in Philadelphia. Although the circumstances appear similar, Nebraska and other states’ workers’ compensation law would likely treat these two claims very differently. 

Nebraska follows a going to and from work rule, which states that accidents occurring in the course of a worker’s travel are generally deemed not to be compensable when the worker is “going or coming” from his or her place of employment. This rule essentially finds that a worker’s daily commute is not covered by workers’ compensation. This travel time is not considered to be within the course and scope of employment. It is likely that the crash victim who was commuting home to New York and her family would not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

One of the exceptions to the going to and from work rule is the “commercial traveler” rule. This rule essentially provides that, if a claimant must be required to travel in the performance of his or her duties and be on the employer’s business during travel, they are generally within the course and scope of their employment from the time they leave home until they return. Some exceptions may arise if it is determined that the employer’s interest was merely incidental, but generally those workers traveling on business, like the crash victim who was reportedly returning home from work-related meetings, should be covered by workers’ compensation.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .